Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Alabama's New Required Career Preparedness Course

Alabama has a new graduation requirement beginning with the Class of 2017 – a course of study called Career Preparedness. From the Course description:

“The Career Preparedness course focuses on three integrated areas of instruction – academic planning and career development, financial literacy, and technology. Course content ranges from college and career preparation to computer literacy skills to way sot manage personal finances and reduce personal risk. The area of technology is designed to be interwoven throughout course instruction. Mastery of the content standards provides a strong foundation for student acquisition of the skills, attitudes, and knowledge that enables them to achieve success in school, at work, and across the life span. “

The financial literacy component is an important one, as noted by U.S. News in this article “Why Most High Schoolers Don’t Know How to ManageTheir Money."  You can also see how states compare with an interactive map found HERE. Just do a Google search for “financial literacy high school” (without quotes), and you will find tons of opinions, blog posts, articles, and information out there.

At Hoover High School, we have six academies that have incorporated the Career Prep standards into their first-year classes:  Education, Engineering, Finance, Health Science, Information Technology (IT), and Law. Within these first-year courses, teachers are able to direct the focus towards the career fields within the academies.

Below you can see my interview with two of our teachers who taught Career preparedness standards within the Engineering Academy I class.

First, meet the teachers, Bryan Rosenstiel and D.J. Strickland:


"Let’s talk about how you incorporate it into your Engineering I classes because you have done a seamless job of integrating the curriculum into your class. Could you talk a little bit about how you customize or narrow the focus for some of your kids in Engineering and what they have to do for Career Prep?"


"How do you decide which part of your Engineering curriculum that you can 'take off your plate' so that you could add the Career Prep component? How do you make those types of decisions?"


"What’s been the feedback from your students about the Career Prep curriculum? Have you gotten positive feedback? Have you had any eye-opening experiences by our students?"


"Since Career Preparedness is so new and this is your first year to incorporate it into your class, are there any changes that you’re going to make as you go forward having experienced it for a full year?"


I would love to hear how your school teaches financial literacy and/or career development in the comments below.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thank You for the Ultimate Sacrifice - Motivation Monday #21 {May 26, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great week!

While today kicks off summer for many, let's be mindful the reason for Memorial Day - a time to pause and remember the many soldiers who have a paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

Have a blessed day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting Off the Road to Failure is a Choice - Motivation Monday #20 {May 19, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great week!

Chael Sonnen is an accomplished UFC fighter and coach. In the video at the end of this post, one of the athletes he coaches, Uriah Hall, gets advice on how to deal with negative thoughts. 

As educators, we can sometimes question our actions and decisions. How can we keep negative thoughts from defeating us? First, take a few minutes to watch the video below. As you go through the week, recall Chael's words of advice. In the comments below, share ways that you defeat negative talk and self-doubt.

Remember why we do what we do. Those reasons are stronger than any negative words or self-doubt!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Simple Words to Inspire Great Leadership

Today I spent a good part of my day meeting with teachers. I was reviewing with each of them their final evaluation of the year, and we discussed areas of strength as well as areas of growth.

Their evaluations are based on formal and informal observations, as well as their Professional Learning Plan and other professional conversations and interactions. 

Getting in classrooms is hard. There is always some administrative responsibility or interruption that can take time away from visiting classrooms. 

This school year, I have been determined to MAKE time (not FIND time) to get in classrooms, talk with teachers about their craft, talk with students about their learning, and share with the world what our teachers and students are doing in their classrooms. 

Also, this school year I've been using the principles in 12: The Elements of Great Managing to guide me in my interactions with others, specifically in the area of teacher engagement.

Today one of the teachers, after our discussion of his evaluation, said these words to me:

"Thank you. I really feel like you know what is going on in our classrooms because you are there so much. I really want to hear your input because I know that you have seen what's going on. You encourage us and are positive, but you also push us to keep getting better. I really appreciate you."

His simple statements made me want to be an even better leader. For our teachers. For our students. For each other. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Attitude and Effort: The Two Things We Control

There are many life lessons I have learned through playing and coaching sports. 

There is one lesson I share with students, teachers, and/or people in my life almost daily. 

This is the lesson: 

When it comes to our part in life (sports, situations, practices, classrooms, etc...), there are only two things we can control:

Attitude and Effort

I've written once before about learning to "control what we can control, and letting other things go." 

It can be difficult to recognize those things that we DO have control over and the things that we do not have control over.

I believe that effective leaders, whether they are leaders in a school or classroom or world leaders, recognize the two things that they can control, and they try to have a positive attitude and give maximum effort to whatever challenges they encounter. 

Attitude and effort

Here are some ways to have a positive attitude:

1. Believe in yourself first. Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady believed in his ability to teach Eliza "proper English" with an upper class accent. "I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ." -Max Lucado
2. Be Intentional. When your actions are purposeful and not aimless, you don't waste time and energy. You are rejuvenated by purposeful work, and your attitude will improve as a result.
3. Practice healthy habits. Make healthy food choices: limit sugar and processed foods and increase vegetable intake. Exercise several times a week. Set aside quiet time for reflection. Drink lots of water.
4.  Have an "attitude of gratitude." Be thankful of others and their gifts that they share with you and/or the world. 
Winston Churchill quote

Here are some ideas to improve effort:

1. Prioritize your work. Use a quadrant like the one created by Steven R. Covey to evaluate your work priorities. Give the most effort to the most important tasks. (See quadrant here: https://bit.ly/Time-Matrix) Work smart.
2.  Do what successful people do. In your organization, identify who the high performers are. Learn from them, and do what they do. 
3. Create a successful team. As a leader, spend time/effort planning, dreaming, planning, training, and developing your team. The amount of effort that a leader gives will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the team.
4.   Focus on the process not the outcome. Gardeners know that they can't control WHAT or HOW MUCH grows, but they increase their chances by taking care of the watering, soil preparation, nutrition, and weeding of their plants. Focus on the process.

What other ideas would you add to the lists?

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Attitude and effort

Monday, May 12, 2014

Losing to Win | ESPN SportsCenter SC Feature - Motivation Monday #19 {May 12, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great week!

If you are a former athlete or coach, you will truly appreciate today's post. Let the feelings of appreciation, pride, and protectiveness you feel as you watch today's video fuel your fire as you work with others this week. 

Carroll Academy, in Huntingdon Tennessee, is an Adolescent Intensive Day Treatment Program operated by the Carroll County Juvenile Court. Even though the Carroll Academy Lady Jags have lost games with scores like 80-8 or 65-7, they use sports as a way to win in the game of life. 

One of the girls was asked about a 91-4 loss that she and her team "suffered"
through. Her response, "We didn't suffer. I'm just glad to be part of a team. 
This is like a family, I've never had a real family before."

May you fight for your students like the coaches and teachers fight for the kids at Carroll Academy. Be awesome this week!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

7 Pinterest Boards You Need to Follow

I have a confession. 

I'm addicted to Pinterest.

It has inspired me to create, to dream, to wish, to learn.... 

Check out some of the boards I curated:

Pinterest is a website that allows you to create "virtual bulletin boards" where you can "pin" pictures and links that you find online. Boards allow for pins to be grouped by category.

Today I'm sharing 7 Pinterest boards that you need to follow. You can thank me later.

1. BYOD - Bring Your Own Device
From starting a program to classroom management to resources. This board provides many practical ideas to implementing such a program.

2. Technology in the Classroom
Lots of information on how to use specific apps and websites as well as other tech integration ideas. It even includes a link to teacher-recommended Pandora stations for the classroom!

3. HS Literacy
Although this board is titled HS Literacy, there are many literacy ideas that can be adapted across grade levels.

4. School Stuff
This board has all kinds of school-related pins, with quite a few pins on classroom management and motivation.

5. Twitter Resources, Apps, and Tools
As a faithful Twitter fan, I have to share the good stuff that can be found on Eric Sheninger's Pinterest board.

Using Twitter for Professional Development: See how these administrators are using social media to connect with peers—and improve how they run their schools.

6. Flipped Class
Erin Klein shares some great pins for flipping the classroom, including do's and don'ts and lots of videos.

Flipping Your Classroom? 5 Learning Ideas

7. Bullying and Digital Citizenship
We can all learn and get better at teaching kids how to be good digital citizens and manage their digital footprint. 

FREE ANTI-BULLYING POSTERS~  Great resource for posters, lesson ideas, and a bunch of other resources to help with effort to help students deal with bullying.

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Do you have a favorite Pinterest board? Feel free to share in the comments or tweet me the link: @jennifer_hogan.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Affirmation for the Week - Motivation Monday #18 {May 5, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great week!

Is this you on Monday mornings?
Any morning?

I've got a great video of Jessica to share with you today. Her enthusiasm and self-confidence is motivating!

We need to follow her lead... 
not just today but every day! 

Have a super day and week!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Freshmen Transition Program for Struggling Students

Today I want to share with you what we do at Hoover High School to provide time and support at school for freshmen who struggle with school. 

Last spring, I talked to the two counselors that would be working with this year's freshmen, and I talked to one of our teachers who was experienced in working with at-risk students, Lori Elgin. 

I shared with them my idea of how we could provide a sort-of "guided study hall" for our at-risk freshmen during their lunch/advisory period. They all agreed that we should give it a try, and it has been a huge success this year. 

Here's what we did to start our STEP class (Student Transition Empowerment Program.)
Informational flyer here: http://bit.ly/1n8xqY3

How did we choose our first group that would start the 2013-2014 school year in STEP?
Last spring, I asked the two middle school principals to identify their 10 most at-risk incoming freshmen at each of their schools. We did not put any qualifiers on them at the time. We asked for students that they thought were at risk of failing, not transitioning well, etc. The students they identified made up our first group for the first nine weeks. The counselors met with each student and their parent(s) about the class, and we had terrific buy-in. 

When would we provide extra time and support to at-risk students?
Our freshmen have an extended 4th period, where the first half is lunch/advisory and the second half is fourth period class. The students in STEP go to the lunchroom and get their lunch, take it to Coach Elgin's room and eat there, and then they have her for advisory (STEP class). 

How do students transition out of STEP?
At the end of the nine weeks, if students' grades are good/better, then they can come out of STEP (getting to eat lunch in the cafeteria again - which is a big deal for freshmen - and going to their regular advisory class.) There are some students whose grades were better, but Coach Elgin thought that the students should stay with her. 

How do students qualify for STEP?
Each nine weeks after the first, the counselors, Coach Elgin and I review the failure report for the freshmen class. All freshmen with 3 or more Fs are placed in STEP. (This does NOT include students who qualify for special education.) Students remain in STEP for the nine week grading period. 

Here's a look into what Coach Elgin does for the students in STEP:
"I have developed a Daily Performance Record sheet that I keep for each student in the STEP Program.  When I take attendance I ask the student what they are going to work on that day and write it on the sheet. 
I also do grade checks 2-4 days a week that I write down on the sheet along with how many missing assignments the student has for each subject.  I have one-on-one conferences with the students at least once a week and we talk about grades, assignments and the possibility of Saturday School. 
I contact the students teacher(s) if there is a specific need to do so and about going to Saturday School. 
I contact their parent about both good and bad progress when I feel it is necessary.  I call parents for sure when I plan on sending them to Saturday School and at that time I talk at length about why the student is failing and any other concerns that I may have."
**Note: At our school, teachers assign Saturday School for students who have missing work. Students are required to stay at Saturday School until the work is complete or the end of Saturday School, whichever comes first. 

Do students have anything to look forward to during the nine weeks?
Coach Elgin, the teacher for STEP, creates rewards for the students. For example, students can "earn" time in the lunchroom. If their grades come up and they are doing their work consistently, Coach Elgin will allow them to eat in the lunchroom then come to her room for advisory.

Mentor Program for students in STEP:
Debbie Grant (one of our freshmen counselors) is married to an officer in the Air National Guard. She arranged for members of the Guard to mentor our students in the STEP class.

Approximately once per quarter, Dr. Grant has arranged for the mentors to come to the school where the students and mentors meet in the library during their STEP class and they are able to meet and talk. 

Since STEP is scheduled during students' lunch/ advisory, it doesn't take up a class period, and we are able to move kids in and out as needed.

At the following link, you can see the informational flyer we use for STEP: 

As the first semester was ending in December, the counselors, Coach Elgin, and I met as a team and defined characteristics of our freshmen students who are at-risk of failing in the ninth grade at Hoover High School:

  • Lack of organization skills
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Busy but not productive
  • Need someone to "stand over them" to get them to work
  • Avoidance of work
  • Low academic performance
  • Rarely turn in work; don't complete assignments
  • Don't check grades regularly
  • Inconsistent effort with completing work

Now that we are near the end of the school year, I will share this list with the principals of the two middle schools that feed into our high school. They will be able to use the list to narrow down their "Top 10" list.

We are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve what we are doing to help students be successful. If you have a successful freshmen transition or support program, we would love to hear from you!